Former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to discipline Western District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan for “vindictively” suggesting a high-profile defendant was guilty. Read the AP story here.
Thornburgh is a lawyer for former Allegheny County medical examiner Cyril Wecht, who was indicted on fraud and theft charges in January 2006 in what critics have called a politically motivated prosecution. A trial ended in a hung jury, and the case ended last month after a federal judge in Erie threw out evidence he said was gathered unconstitutionally through improper search warrants. Read our previous report here.
Buchanan has been in office since 2001 and is among the most controversial of the holdover Bush-appointed U.S. Attorneys.
“We trust you will agree such statements by a United States prosecutor are completely improper, violate all notions of prosecutorial ethics and decency, and warrant remedial action by the Department of Justice,” Thornburgh wrote in a June 16 letter to Holder, the AP reported.
Despite the controversies around Buchanan, the state’s two Democratic senators haven’t exactly jumped to replace her. Well, in fairness, Sen. Arlen Specter only recently became a Democrat and has a few problems of his own to deal with — like winning re-election. But Sen. Bob Casey could have been working on it. Instead, the senators are only just now getting around to taking applications for U.S. Attorneys in Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported:
Applications also are being sought for the position held by Michael R. Stiles, interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Martin C. Carlson, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Specter told the AP that a search panel will interview candidates July 17, and recommendations should be announced “in a few weeks.”